Hundreds of volunteers still needed for homeless count

Hundreds of volunteers still needed for homeless count

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two weeks before the state’s annual homeless “point-in-time” count, officials say they’re still short hundreds of volunteers.

Starting Jan. 22, teams will canvass the state to tally Hawaii’s homeless population.

The annual count is a federal requirement. Results are tied to money that will go towards combating the statewide crisis — so accuracy is critical.

However, officials say they still need about 250 volunteers.

In particular, they’re looking for people who are familiar with Waianae, Oahu’s North Shore and central Oahu.

“If we have volunteers from that region who know where some of the homeless are we have navigators if you will,” said Sam Millington, executive director of Partners in Care.

With surveys in hand volunteers will attempt to ask every person they encounter 22 questions in exchange for some toiletries or a gift card for food.

In addition to gathering basic information, there are two new questions on this year’s survey.

“If we’re talking to an adult, one of the questions we will want to ask them is were you homeless as a youth,” said Millington.

The other relates to the effects of Mother Nature.

“One is about natural disasters: Is your homelessness a cause of a natural disaster,” said Millington.

Meanwhile, service providers will also count the number of people staying in the state’s shelters.

All total in 2018, volunteers counted 6,530 homeless people — a drop of 9.6 percent compared to the previous year.

The governor’s homeless coordinator, Scott Morishige, says getting an accurate count is critical to obtaining resources to address the crisis.

“Let’s say you see an area of the islands where homelessness has increased. You can make the case potentially for more funds to be directed to a specific area and gives a better sense of how needs are changing over time,” he said.

The state confirms homeless sweeps will be postponed from Jan. 14 through Jan. 25 to get a more accurate count.

If you would like to register as count volunteer, click here. Every volunteer must attend a training session.

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